Zinc For Hair Loss: How It Works, Benefits, And Side Effects

Learn everything about this essential nutrient and its role in your hair health.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Priya Gill, MBBCH, MRCP
Written by Anjali Sayee, BTech
Edited by Eshna Das, BA, MSc
Fact-checked by Krati Darak, MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Zinc for hair loss has become a potential treatment. We often see people consuming zinc supplements to improve hair loss. We know that nutrients are essential for hair growth, but do you know how zinc is beneficial and what exactly it does for hair loss? This article discusses all the benefits of zinc on hair and how zinc deficiency affects hair health. Read on.

protip_icon Trivia
The first case of zinc deficiency was reported in the United States of America in 1969 in a Puerto Rican person.
protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Zinc

What Is It?
A trace mineral generally found in poultry, red meat, and fish.

What Are Its Benefits?
It supports hair growth, strengthens hair follicles, and increases hair thickness.

Who Can Use It?
Zinc supplements can be consumed by all in moderation unless they are allergic to zinc.

How Often?
It can be taken every day; however, the dosage depends on the recommendation of your healthcare provider.

Caution
Excess consumption of zinc is unsafe and may cause vomiting, stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea, and headache. It may also interact with certain medications.

Zinc Deficiency And Hair Loss

Zinc deficiency triggers hair loss
Image: Shutterstock

Research shows that zinc deficiency may cause hair loss (1). Such hair loss can most often be treated with zinc supplementation. In another study, participants with male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss, and telogen effluviumi  XA temporary condition where hair begins to fall out two to three months following a stressful event or bodily change, such as childbirth or surgery. were deficient in zinc (2). Individuals with alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease that leads to patchy hair loss in a roundish configuration) were also found to have low zinc levels (3).

Along similar lines, a study found that the risk of encountering alopecia areata in a lifetime is around 2% in the general population. In addition, the study also found that alopecia areata is genetic, and those with a family history are more likely to experience it, with a probability of between 0% and 8.6%. Moreover, the study suggested that alopecia areata can increase the risk of getting other autoimmune diseases by 16%.

While zinc seems to have an important role in combating hair loss, more research is warranted. Other studies suggest no significant relationship between zinc deficiency and hair loss (1), (4), (5).

If you are unsure whether or not you have zinc deficiency, then continue reading as we explore the various symptoms that will help you understand the condition better and take action accordingly.

Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency

Dandruff due to zinc deficiency
Image: Shutterstock
  • Hair Loss: This is the most common symptom of zinc deficiency. If you are experiencing hair thinning and frequent shedding, and notice bald patches on your scalp, it may be a result of zinc deficiency. The common hair loss symptoms have also been noticed in alopecia areata patients who have zinc deficiency (6).
  • Brittle Hair: Zinc deficiency may also cause dry and brittle hair that is more prone to breakage (7).
  • Scalp Issues: Insufficient serum zinc levels in the body may lead to dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) and an itchy scalp (8).
  • Premature Graying: Zinc helps maintain hair pigmentation, thus its deficiency can contribute to premature graying of the hair (9).

If you are wondering how zinc can improve your hair, here are some of its benefits.

Benefits Of Zinc For Hair

Zinc promotes healthy hair
Image: Shutterstock
  1. A study showed that alopecia areata may be treated with zinc supplementation (6). Nine out of 15 participants in the study showed improved hair growth with regular intake of zinc supplements.
  2. Another study used oral supplementation of chelated zinc paired with regular applications of topical minoxidil (10). Chelated zinc played an important role in hair growth in female pattern hair loss.
  3. Zinc contains enzymes crucial for certain functional activities in the hair follicles (10). The nutrient also helps inhibit hair follicle regression and may accelerate the healing of hair follicles.
  4. Oral zinc sulfate can help treat patchy alopecia areata with a low relapse rate after cessationi  XA process of reducing or ending hair loss by effective medication and dietary changes to regrow hair. of the treatment (6).
  5. Oral L-cystinei  XA form of non-essential amino acid if taken as medication with zinc which promotes hair regrowth and strengthening. , when combined with zinc, can treat diffuse alopecia. It also can increase hair count, improve hair density, and boost keratin content (11).
  6. Topical and oral supplementation of zinc is said to impact hair loss and promote hair growth. Zinc may inhibit 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that may disrupt hair growth. Zinc also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may promote hair growth (11).
  7. Zinc chelates paired with pyrithionei  XIt is used to prepare zinc pyrithione which is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal and used to treat dandruff. may be used as a treatment for dandruff (11).
  8. Zinc is an enzyme activator. It activates the protein transformation necessary for hair building (12).
  9. Zinc deficiencies might diminish hair and scalp health and make hair brittle (7). This problem may be treated with zinc supplementation
  10. Free radicals cause oxidative damage and lead to hair loss. Zinc, being an antioxidant, can help balance the production of free radicals (7).

One of the best ways to avoid a zinc deficiency is to consume more foods rich in zinc. Here are some food options you can consider adding to your everyday diet.

Foods Rich In Zinc

Fish, meat, red meat, and poultry are rich in zinc
Image: Shutterstock

A diet low in zinc can cause hair loss and make hair brittle (7). You can counter this by consuming fish and meat, which are rich in zinc and add to hair nutrition (1). Oysters, red meat, and poultry are the best sources of zinc (13). Vegetables and grains are comparatively lower in zinc. Other zinc-rich foods include crabs, lobster, dairy products, beans, nuts, and fortified breakfast cereals

Foods Rich In Zinc
FoodMilligrams (mg) per servingPercent DV*
Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces74673
Beef chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces764
Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces6.559
Beef patty, broiled, 3 ounces5.348
Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces3.431
Pork chop, loin, cooked, 3 ounces2.926
Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, ½ cup2.926
Breakfast cereal, fortified with 25% of the DV for zinc, 1 serving2.825
Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces2.422
Pumpkin seeds, dried, 1 ounce2.220
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces1.715
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce1.615
Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup1.312
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce1.211
Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water, 1 packet1.110
Milk, low-fat or non fat, 1 cup19
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce0.98
Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup0.98
Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed, ½ breast0.98
Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella, 1 ounce0.98
Peas, green, frozen, cooked, ½ cup0.55
Flounder or sole, cooked, 3 ounces0.33

Zinc Dosage For Hair

Woman taking zinc supplement for beautiful hair
Image: Shutterstock

Following are the adequate zinc dosage values recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board (13):

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc
AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0 – 6 months2 mg*2 mg*
7 – 12 months3 mg3 mg
1 – 3 years3 mg3 mg
4 – 8 years5 mg5 mg
9 – 13 years8 mg8 mg
14 – 18 years11 mg9 mg12 mg13 mg
19+ years11 mg8 mg11 mg12 mg

Side Effects

Excess zinc intake triggers nausea and vomiting
Image: Shutterstock

Excess intake of zinc can lead to zinc toxicity. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and abdominal cramps (13).

protip_icon Quick Tip
It is recommended to take zinc supplements at least one hour before meals or two hours after meals to reap maximum benefits.

It is also advisable to check with a doctor before taking any hair supplements and hair vitamins with medications. Certain medications may react adversely with zinc. Antibiotics can inhibit zinc absorption. Diureticsi  XAny ingredient or drug that encourages diuresis (excessive urine production) to flush out excess salt and water from the body. may reduce zinc levels in the body and cause a deficiency. Zinc may also reduce the absorption and activity of penicillaminei  XA medication used to remove excess copper from the bloodstream and reduce swelling and pain during arthritis. , hindering rheumatoid arthritisi  XAn autoimmune condition that causes persistent inflammation and affects the tissue on both sides of joints, especially the hands and feet, and hair loss. treatment (12).

Key Takeaways

  • Zinc is an essential nutrient for hair health, and a deficiency may lead to hair loss and damage.
  • Topical and oral zinc supplementation can help improve hair growth, count, density, and keratin content.
  • Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetables are common sources of dietary zinc.
  • It is recommended to consult a doctor before starting zinc supplements with any other health concerns or in combination with other medicines.

Learn from a dermatologist how zinc can improve your skin and hair health! Get the facts on how to incorporate it into your routine from the video below.

Infographic: A Complete Guide To Zinc For Hair Loss

Various studies have suggested that zinc deficiency may cause hair loss. The good news is that increasing your zinc intake may help strengthen your hair follicles and boost hair growth. Check out the infographic below to know about the benefits of zinc for your hair, how to incorporate it into your diet, and more.

a complete guide to zinc for hair loss (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Zinc plays an important role in hair care and especially in combating hair loss. Using zinc for hair loss can be a good idea as it is proven to have treated hair loss problems in people with alopecia areata. According to anecdotal evidence, regular zinc supplementation may also improve hair growth. Consuming a zinc-rich diet like crabs, fish, nuts, beans, lobster, dairy products, and cereals may help combat hair loss issues. You may also make a few lifestyle changes and maintain a healthy sleep pattern to keep your hair issues at bay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you take zinc every day?

You can have zinc daily so long as it is within the recommended dosage. Excess intake may lead to vomiting, stomach issues, and other health problems.

When should I take zinc in the morning or night?

Zinc can be taken at any time of the day. However, you should not take it on an empty stomach as it may upset the stomach.

Can zinc cause blood clots?

Zinc deficiency may lead to blood clots and other irregularities.

Is it OK to take vitamin C and zinc together?

Yes. It is alright to consume vitamin C with zinc, provided they are within their recommended dosage.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: a Review,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  2. Analysis of Serum Zinc and Copper Concentrations in Hair Loss,
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24371385/
  3. The Role of Micronutrients in Alopecia Areata: a Review,
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28508256/
  4. Comparison of Zn, Cu, and Fe Content in Hair and Serum in Alopecia Areata Patients With Normal Group,
    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2014/784863/
  5. Element Concentrations in Serum, Erythrocytes, Hair and Urine of Alopecia Patients,
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2424231/
  6. The Therapeutic Effect and the Changed Serum Zinc Level after Zinc Supplementation in Alopecia Areata Patients Who Had a Low Serum Zinc Level
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861201/
  7. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  8. Serum zinc levels in seborrheic dermatitis: a case-control study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7018314/
  9. Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290285/
  10. A Pilot Study of the Efficacy in Treatment of Female Pattern Hair Loss Using 5% Minoxidil Solution Combined With Oral Chelated Zinc Supplement,
    https://www.longdom.org/open-access/a-pilot-study-of-the-efficacy-in-treatment-of-female-pattern-hair-loss-using-minoxidil-solution-combined-with-oral-chelated-zinc-supplement-2167-0951.1000113.pdf
  11. Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Alopecia: a Comprehensive Review,
    https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/492035
  12. Efficacy of Alimental Components in an Oral Supplement for the Treatment of Hair Fall, Hair Growth, Skin & Nail Problems and Role of Hairvit Plus in Their Composition Upgradation,
    http://www.ijsrp.org/research-paper-0318/ijsrp-p7545.pdf
  13. Zinc,
    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
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